1. When we know about the future we normally use the present tense.

  • We use the present simple for something scheduled or arranged:

We have a lesson next Monday.
The train arrives at 6.30 in the morning.
The holidays start next week.
It is my birthday tomorrow.

  • We can use the present continuous for plans or arrangements:

I’m playing football tomorrow.
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
We’re having a party at Christmas.

2. We use will to talk about the future:

  • When we make predictions:

It will be a nice day tomorrow.
I think Brazil will win the World Cup.
I’m sure you will enjoy the film.

  • To mean want to or be willing to:

I hope you will come to my party.
George says he will help us.

  • To make offers and promises:

I'll see you tomorrow.
We'll send you an email.

  • To talk about offers and promises:

Tim will be at the meeting.
Mary will help with the cooking.

3. We use (be) going to:

  • To talk about plans and intentions:

I’m going to drive to work today.
They are going to move to Manchester.

  • When we can see that something is likely to happen:

Be careful! You are going to fall.
Look at those black clouds. I think it’s going to rain.


4. We often use verbs like would like, plan, want, mean, hope, expect to talk about the future:

What are you going to do next year? I’d like to go to University.
We plan to go to France for our holidays.
George wants to buy a new car.

5. We use modals may, might, and could when we are not sure about the future:

I might stay at home tonight, or I might go to the cinema.
We could see Mary at the meeting. She sometimes goes.

6. We can use should if we think something is likely to happen:

We should be home in time for tea.
The game should be over by eight o’clock.

7. Clauses with time words:

In clauses with time words like when, after, and until we often use a present tense form to talk about the future:

I’ll come home when I finish work.
You must wait here until your father comes.
They are coming after they have had dinner.

8. Clauses with if:

In clauses with if we often use a present tense form to talk about the future:

We won’t be able to go out if it rains.
If Barcelona win tomorrow they will be champions.

WARNING: We do not normally use will in clauses with if or with time words:

I’ll come home when I will finish work.
We won’t be able to go out if it will rain rains.

But we can use will if it means a promise or offer:

I will be very happy if you will come to my party.
We should finish the job early if George will help us.

9. We can use the future continuous instead of the present continuous or going to for emphasis when we are talking about plans, arrangements and intentions:

They’ll be coming to see us next week.
I will be driving to work tomorrow.

 

 

Exercise

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Comments

Hie I hope I find you well. I have got a slight confusion with the following sentences " my parents will come next week" and " my parents will be coming next week" is there any difference

Hello Lamastry,

Good to see you again! 'will be coming' is the future continuous, which you can read about on our Future continuous & Future perfect page. When you say 'My parents will come next week', what do you mean? If you mean that they have called you to say that they plan to come, for example, 'will' would not be correct – you should say 'My parents are coming (or: 'are going to come') next week.'

The future continuous can be used to speak of future decided events, so 'My parents will be coming next week' can in effect mean much the same thing as 'My parents are coming next week'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hallo,

1. Could you explain more about future continuous is used for emphasis when we're talking about plans?

2. I 'm going to Jakarta later.
I'm not going to teach this wednesday.
Why are they going to arrive so late tonight.

Do the above sentences have the same meaning with

I'll be going to Jakarta later.
I won't be teaching this wednesday.
Why will they be arriving so late tonight?

Thanks

Hello Syifazaka,

Where 'going to' describes an intention or plan which may still change, future continuous describes something more definite. It suggests that the action is psychologically already in progress - the decision has been taken and is no longer under consideration, but is certain in the mind of the speaker. This is why we say it adds emphasis. The present continuous is somewhere in the middle. For example:

I'm going to go to Jakarta later. [an intention - it may change]

I'm going to Jakarta later. [an arrangement - it may change, but I don't expect it to]

I'll be going to Jakarta later. [something I am sure will happen - it is already part of my expectations and I don't anticipate any change]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter

But I've ever read somewhere that present continuous is used to talk about arrangement that is definitely fixed. So, I don't see any difference between "I'm going to Jakarta" and "I'll be going to Jakarta"

Hello Syifazaka,

I'd say exactly the same thing as Peter did above – he clearly describes how the different forms show a difference in the way the speaker views the future event. If you look at examples in context, I'm confident you'll see that he's right.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

[ I've never been to New Delhi before. ] I'm going to New Delhi next month and I'm talking to you about it now.
Will it be right to say -- 'This is the first time I'm going to New Delhi' ?

I'm struggling with the tense that follows the construction 'This is the first time' .
Would you mind helping me ?

Hello prapsahu,

Yes, that is fine. Well done! You are talking about a planned future, so the correct form is 'going to'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!

I don't see the difference between P.C. and going to, as they both are used for plans.

You wrote these two examples:

"I'm playing football tomorrow."
"I'm going to drive to work today."

Those both are plans you have. Why do we use P.C. in one and Going to in the other? Would it be wrong to say I'm going to play football tomorrow or I'm driving to work today?

Thank you

Hi ann22u,

There isn't always a difference between the present continuous and 'be going to' when talking about plans, so yes, the sentences you proposed are fine. When speaking about fixed future plans, i.e. plans that are already arranged in some way, the present continuous is sometimes used to indicate that the plan is fixed or arranged.

For example, if you're going away next weekend and have a reservation at the Ritz Hotel, saying 'I'm staying at the Ritz' and 'I'm going to stay at the Ritz' are both correct, but the first form (with present continuous) can imply that you already have a reservation there whereas the second one doesn't clearly indicate this. You could still say 'I'm going to stay' even if you have a reservation, but the present continuous form communicates that arrangement more clearly than 'being going to'.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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